Updated: Jul 30, 2020
When things go wrong in the body, even in the feet, there are usually warning signs that something isn’t quite right. It could be discomfort or a change in your skin and nails that shows all is not well. That’s certainly the case for color changes with your nails. Black toenails are typically an injury and may be a sign you need to make some changes, particularly to your shoes.
Toenails protect the ends of your digits from trauma. However, when they get bashed or when you stub your foot, they can suffer damage, too. Sometimes blood leaks under the hard keratin as a result of this damage, staining that area a dark color. These are black toenails.
This kind of nail damage can develop any time you bash your toes, whether you drop something heavy or kick something solid. For many people, though—particularly athletes—black toenails are actually a shoe problem. The front of the shoe is too short, or their feet slide forward and bump against the front of their footwear when they run or walk. The repetitive trauma over time turns their nails black.
If this happens to you, it might mean you need a shoe change to keep your toes and nails healthy. Stick to footwear styles with plenty of room in the toe box for your digits to be able to wiggle and at least half an inch of space between the front and your longest toe. Avoid shoes that allow your feet to slip forward and back when you walk. High heels that force your feet forward aren’t good, either.
Black toenails are largely avoidable for most people by wearing the right shoes. You don’t have to put up with the pain or unsightly discoloration if you make a change and wear footwear that protects your lower limbs instead of contributing to the problem. If you struggle with black toenails, or your nails are uncomfortable, let our team at Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC help you take care of them. Contact our Metairie (504-708-4810) or Covington (985-809-1464) offices for more information about changes you can make for blackened nails, or care for pain you may have.